Independent compensation study published

Written by Jessica Bomford, June 8, 2022

There is a ‘strong moral case’ for the government to pay compensation to those infected and affected by the contaminated blood scandal, an independent study has concluded.

The long-awaited report by Sir Robert Francis QC was published by the government yesterday – a month before he is due to give evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry.

Sir Robert was asked by Mr Ellis’s predecessor, Penny Mordaunt MP, to carry out an independent study on compensation last year so that the government could have a scheme up and running when the Infected Blood Inquiry makes its final report in 2023. He met more than 100 infected and affected people as well as organisations such as the Haemophilia Society and legal representatives before submitting his report in March.

Sir Robert made 19 recommendations in his 195-page report including:

  • an immediate interim payment of not less than £100,000 for those infected already on a support scheme
  • parents, children, siblings, spouses, civil partners and unpaid carers eligible for compensation
  • adopting a ‘sympathetic and sensitive’ approach towards proving eligibility with recollections accepted as true unless there is overwhelming evidence to contradict it
  • hepatitis B should not be added to the list of eligible infections, unless chronic with serious symptoms
  • two expert panels to set definitions for standardised payments – or tariffs – for medical conditions with scope for personalised payments on issues including lack of consent, testing and diagnosis
  • compensation to be overseen by an ‘arms length body’, accountable to the UK parliament with delivery bodies in each home nation, alongside the current support schemes
  • compensation could be made as a lump sum or regular payments, depending on applicant’s choice
  • advocacy and support service to help people with applications and financial management.

This report adds to overwhelming evidence that the government has a long-overdue obligation to pay compensation to those whose lives have been devastated by the contaminated blood scandal

Kate Burt, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society

Apart from the interim payment recommendation, the report does not say what specific amounts should be paid. It is intended to offer guiding principles to government in calculating a complex set of sliding-scale payments.

Paymaster General Michael Ellis MP, who is the minister responsible for the inquiry, issued a statement praising Sir Robert’s ‘comprehensive and detailed’ study, but said the government’s decision on how to proceed ‘cannot be completed hurriedly’. There is no date set for when the government will publish its own compensation proposals. Compensation cannot be applied for until and unless the government formally announces a scheme.

Sir Robert was asked by Mr Ellis’s predecessor, Penny Mordaunt MP, to carry out an independent study on compensation last year so that the government could have a scheme up and running when the Infected Blood Inquiry makes its final report in 2023. He met more than 100 infected and affected people as well as organisations such as the Haemophilia Society and legal representatives before submitting his report to government in March.

The report sets out potential categories for calculating loss, such as:

  • pain and suffering
  • stigma and social isolation, including impact on relationships
  • grief
  • cost of care (in both time and money)
  • ease of access to counselling and support.

Sir Robert said there was a ‘compelling argument’ for treating the infected and some affected as a ‘special case’ for compensation which, he said, was ‘not just a matter of money, but includes provision of support and, above all, restoration of dignity’.

Kate Burt, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society said: ‘This report adds to overwhelming evidence that the government has a long-overdue obligation to pay compensation to those whose lives have been devastated by the contaminated blood scandal. Thousands have died waiting for government to do the right thing – now the time has come to act. The government must approve an immediate interim payment for those infected to give them and their loved ones some financial security and acknowledge the harm that has been caused.’

If you have questions about the report or what happens next, please contact our public inquiry team on [email protected]

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